“Hairspray” is one of those musicals that you can take anyone to. Unlike, say, “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” or Sondheim's stuff, this show has a relatively light story and accessible songs with pop sensibilities. Exactly the kind of musical that Filipino theater performers will excel at. And excel they do.
Great pop songs
Notable performances from Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Velma Von Tussle, Dulce as Motormouth Maybelle, and Nyoy Volante as Seaweed J. Stubbs (man, the guy can dance). But naturally the most impressive turn is Madel Ching's Tracy Turnblad, who is in all but two scenes. And while she can't dance as well as Nikki Blonsky does in the movie remake, her voice and comic timing (not to mention her energy) more than make up for it.
The songs lend themselves to a lot of embellishments, and birit is something any Pinoy can appreciate. Watch out for Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo's “Miss Baltimore Crabs” and Dulce's “I Know Where I've Been” for impressive vocal acrobatics while “Mama I'm a Big Girl Now” and “I Can Hear The Bells” are great concepts. My personal favorite is a lovely duet between Leo Rialp and Michael de Mesa as Mr and Mrs Turnblad (“You're Timeless to Me”). Two mustachioed veteran actors sharing an “awwww” moment on stage is odd but fits entirely with the show's tone.
Just enough cheese
Director Bobby Garcia squeezes enough cheese from the performers to give a little extra wink to the audience. Noel Rayos as Corny Collins plays him like a hipper Kuya Germs and the chorus dances and sings with a healthy dose of overacting to remind us that this isn't a 60s musical but really a hip 21st century show nearer in tone to “Avenue Q” than “West Side Story.”
Upbeat and Fun
It's a “starter musical,” a great introduction to theater for kids and adults who aren't used to seeing people sing while acting onstage. The Manila production is a fun romp showcasing some of the best voice talents in the local theater scene.
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For tickets to the November 29 (Saturday) 8:00 pm performance, email me at apsalamat (at) yahoo (dot) com or text 0917-3590459. The show runs from November 14 to December 7 at the Star Theater (at Star City) CCP complex, Pasay City. Tickets at 1200, 1000, 800, and 600.